Embracing Immigrant Talent in the US

Embracing immigrant talent can help drive innovation and grow the economy in the United States. Many businesses are struggling to find the right employees in a variety of industries, but immigrant workers can fill this gap.

The Importance of Acquiring Talent Through Immigration

There’s no shortage of talent all over the world, and many skilled immigrants are looking for work in the United States. A recent Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) paper discussed the integral role that immigration plays in encouraging economic growth and increased productivity in the workplace, along with many businesses’ failure to embrace this talent.

The authors of the paper found that “nations that prioritize its development, its attraction, its retention, and its movement across borders will be best positioned to compete.” With so many technological developments available to businesses today, the greatest advantage for a business will be to have the best talent and reliable employees.

The GMAC paper combines business school application data gathered in their Application Trends Survey Report 2019 and data collected from the U.S., U.K., Canada, India, and China. Collectively, this data enables researchers to more accurately understand how immigration and business schools influence talent acquisition and development.

GMAC Board Chair and Dean of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, Bill Boulding, stated that business schools are in a unique position to determine just how the mobility of talent influences the economy as well as vitality, and as talent developers, experts at GMAC possess nearly real-time data that details new trends regarding the locations where talent is traveling. “We feel it is critical we share this information now with policymakers around the world as talent will be the most important factor in determining who wins and loses economically in the future,” Boulding explained.

How to Improve Talent Acquisition

Some policymakers are proposing U.S.-based policy reforms that are intended to help improve the talent gap. These policy reforms include the removal of certain countries’ current visa caps and making drastic reformations to the H-1B visa program to give foreign talent a better chance of gaining entry into the U.S. These policy reforms also include an effort to make the immigration process easier for individuals to understand and navigate.

There are many facts that support the GMAC paper’s argument for reforming immigration policies, including data such as the number of non-native Ph.D. students in the U.S., the fact that one in three U.S. Nobel Prize laureates in the sciences were immigrants, and the number of U.S. immigrant startup founders. The paper reveals that while only around 15 percent of the workforce is comprised of immigrants, these immigrants make up nearly one-fourth of all inventors and entrepreneurs.

Unfortunately, immigrants still find it challenging to move to another country, from acquiring their visa to looking for a home, transferring bank accounts, and registering as taxpayers. It’s also a time-consuming process, involving finding a sponsor and the potential delay between starting a new job at a new company and receiving the first paycheck.

To help eliminate the issue of delayed payments and the burden of moving, GMAC intends to assist with financing and the general logistics of the move, from purchasing flight tickets to covering the initial rent payments, among other expenses. In turn, as the immigrant begins earning more income at his or her job, he or she can begin to pay back what they owe.

How Immigration of Talent Impacts the Community

If high-value immigrant employees are able to travel freely to reach their full potential, this could largely benefit the global community in addition to the host community.

At the same time, there are some valid concerns regarding immigration and the various challenges around integration. However, author William Kerr in The Gift of Global Talent makes it clear that as many discuss the issue of global talent as it relates to illegal immigration, there are many nuances and aspects to consider when it comes to skilled students and immigrants.

One big concern has to do with inequality within certain regions. There’s an understandable worry that while large countries and cities thrive because of larger populations, smaller communities may lose to big-city opportunities. This makes it important for policymakers to avoid neglecting these smaller towns and regions.

The GMAC paper states that while hiring global talent is important for success, it’s also important to invest in local talent. Working with both local and immigrant talent can help prevent the need to relocate to where talent is and ensure that those smaller communities aren’t ignored.

Ultimately, immigration will continue to play a vital part in helping startups establish themselves throughout the U.S., whether in a smaller community or a large city, which makes it important for businesses to do what they can to embrace foreign talent willing to relocate to the U.S.